Steph Nel, the head of the Western Province Rugby Institute has been put in temporary charge of the Namibian Rugby Union’s (NRU) administration to help the beleagured union prepare for the World Cup.
This follows a visit by an International Rugby Board (IRB) delegation to Windhoek, consisting of Mark Egan, the IRB’s Head of Development and Performance and Cliffie Booysen, the IRB’s Regional General Manager for Africa.
At a press conference in Windhoek on Thursday, Egan said that Nel had been seconded by the IRB to assist the NRU until the end of September 2011, while the IRB would also cover his expenses.
“We reached an agreement with Western Province and Steph Nel has now been seconded to come and work as a consultant with the NRU. His main task will be to help organise the administrative side and to assist the NRU with its World Cup plans,” Egan said.
“Nel has a lot of experience and is a highly qualified coach and administrator,” Egan added.
Egan said it was a routine visit and that the IRB did not plan to take over the affairs of the NRU.
“We haven’t come to take over, but it’s critical that the NRU is well-organised. We are asking a small union with limited resources to compete against the best teams in the world. The NRU does have some financial problems and there will be careful monitoring of their financial resources.”
He however added that the IRB was satisfied with the administration of the NRU to date.
“We are happy with the NRU’s funds management while they have put good structures in place. But they have a small staff who are mostly volunteers, and Namibia is an important member of the international rugby family that needs our support,” he said.
Egan said they were confident that Namibian rugby would improve with Nel at the helm.
“We think the NRU can still do better and with Steph here, we are confident that better structures will be put in place,” he said.
The NRU’s administration has come under strain since it suspended its CEO Sakkie Mouton in December. At the time, NRU president Buks Bock said that Mouton had gone ahead with staging an international Sevens Tournament in Walvis Bay, after he had been instructed to cancel it a few days before the start, since he could not provide proof of sponsorships for the tournament. The tournament went ahead, but the NRU could not recover the expenses and according to Bock, more than N$400 000 was still outstanding.
A disciplinary hearing has been set for Friday, February 4.
Egan said that the NRU’s investigation was an internal affair that the IRB would not get involved with.
“The NRU is a sovereign body and we wont interfere, but we make investments with the NRU and have a responsibility to provide strategic investment advice... The issue with the CEO is a local issue that we will not get involved with. But we were concerned about the administration which needs to be addressed,” he said.
Egan said that he had held discussions with Namibian national coach Johan Diergaardt and that an exciting development programme had been put in place for the national team this year.
This included participation in the South African Vodacom Cup competition as well as the IRB Nations Cup in Romania in June, when Namibia will also meet Romania, Georgia and Portugal in test matches. They were also trying to secure three more matches against strong opposition in July and August, possibly against the Argentina Jaguars and the South African Students, amongst others.
He added that they would also assist the NRU with additional skills coaching and technical support, as well as equipment and medical supplies.
“The IRB has additional funding and we will help, but our funds are limited and we hope that the Namibian government and private sector will also assist their national team in this important year,” he said.